Surfing the Internet; Ignorance and Fear

And instead of looking at the same old T&A, (it never gets old; yes, it does), I spend a lot of time on the cruising, sailing and trawler forums. A lot of time.

I have for the past few years and have learned so much.  And much like T&A it does start to get repetitive, but the gems are still out there and unlike T&A, those gems may save our lives.

I was on Sailnet reading this discussion about fore reaching, trying to understand what it was and how to do it in a motor vessel (  When I came upon this gem, hidden in the advertorial about these Jordan Services drogues.  quoted in part:

“A final misconception is the belief that a breaking wave “strikes” the boat and that the moving water in the crest does the damage. Actually, the boat is lifted by the forward face of the wave with no impact. When it reaches the breaking crest the boat velocity is close to the wave velocity. The crest water is aerated and has little damage potential. Damage to the boat is incurred when the boat is thrown ahead of the wave and impacts the green water in the trough. The leeward side and the deck are struck. A careful reading of “Fastnet Force Ten” and “Fatal Storm” will confirm this conclusion.”

Now this explanation is describing waves three to four times bigger than what I encountered. But it helps me understand the movement of Dauntless that I was feeling during that last 6 hours of the big storm on August 28th.

It was dark, I was lying on the pilot house bench in large part not to lose my footing and because there was nothing else I could really do.  The ComNav Autopilot, (I need to write those people) was doing a fine job, better than I could do myself.  I was tired and sick of bouncing around.  For the previous 25 days, I had laid a course that mitigated the waves and winds.  Now, in this last 24 hours of our trip, I just wanted the trip to end, as soon as possible. That meant no more detours; a direct line to Castletownbere or bust.

So as I lay there, rocking and rolling, about every minute or two, I would feel the boat sliding down the wave front on its beam, hit the trough with a large thump.  Now we were sliding only a few feet, unlike the boats that got destroyed during the Fastnet Race, but enough to cause the thump, but nothing more.  The lee side cap rail within a foot of the water, a big rush of white water that I realize from reading the above, was caused by the boat hitting the trough.  Then in this hesitation that felt far longer, but a most was only a few seconds, Dauntless would linger about 30 to 40° heeled over, as I felt the wave pass under the boat.  Only once, the day before, did the rail actually go under water by about a foot.  At the time I had thought that we were pooped meaning a wave came over the stern in a following sea, but later I realized water had come over the lee side cap rail.

just a few days earlier,I had realized that the paravane stabilizers actually were least effective with a following sea and most effective with the sea and waves on the beam.  The problem with beam seas is that it is also more dangerous in case of a big wave.  But big is a relative term and while I knew it was uncomfortable, I also knew that the boat was built for this and there was certainly no danger.

So understanding the how and why is very important for me. Ignorance causes fear and the journey of Dauntless is just beginning, so we still have much to learn.

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